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The Waiting online movie review - Late twist saves this otherwise boring and incredulous tale
"The Good Neighbor" follows the antics of 2 teenage boys (Ethan and Sean) 'haunting' and surveilling an old man (Harold Grainey) that they dislike, all in the name of conducting a 'sociological experiment', in the hopes of generating a million views on youtube.
Eventually, we learn that this just isn't some innocent experiment, and the old man isn't what they thought he was.
The movie opens with a narration of how perception isn't always reality, and that people see only what they want to see. And this is really what this movie is about. The old man that everybody views as despicable and hateful is really just an old man that's hurting from the loss of his wife and wants to be left alone. While the old man's strange behavior may seem psychotic to others, especially to the two voyeur teenagers, in reality it's just the actions of an old man trying to deal with pain and reacting to the paranormal activity, in his own self-destructive way of course. It's an interesting lesson of how outside influences, regardless of how innocent, can have an enormously unpredictable outcome.
However, the antics of these kids isn't so innocent, most especially are the motives of Ethan. He keeps trying to push the old man, even when confronted and challenged by his partner in crime. We soon learn that this 'experiment' has as much to do with revenge as it does a study in human behavior. We learn that there is a history between Ethan's family and Mr. Grainey (very appropriately named I might add), and Ethan's bias toward the old man only fuels his speculation that he is up to no good. Ultimately, Mr. Grainey pays the ultimate price as a result of the actions of the two juvenile delinquents.
I generally found this movie kind of hard to watch because the characters were so unlikable. Ethan, the true villain in this movie, I found to be truly despicable. His cohort Sean has a conscience but isn't able to think on his own and is compelled to be around Ethan because of his own insecurities and social awkwardness. Ethan's mother is so wrapped up in her own world that she basically lets Ethan do whatever he wants. And Mr. Grainey, for better or worse, was made out to be so horrible by the narrative that even when we learn that he's a lonely, albeit mean, old man that garners sympathy, it's hard to put aside the initial feelings about him and his overall bad traits.
However, the climax with Ethan hiding in the house with his gun drawn and Mr. Grainey standing in the same room with his gun drawn is truly a gripping scene, and basically saves the movie from being a total disaster. And it serves as a reminder to us all that we all live in our own perceptions of reality.